Can anything dam the Tide?
The third edition in the weekly Bleacher Report series of bowl projections reveals a postseason already beginning to take shape based upon the input of fellow writers, analyst comments, and the reading public.
During the first two editions we have witnessed non-partisan input from several highly respected Alabama, Ohio State, Nebraska, Auburn, Washington, and Syracuse supporters who have spiced the discussion with factual detail and predictions based upon past performance and future contests.
As the season matures, we expect some general consensus on the 18 larger-paying bowls and a frenzy of disagreement concerning the remaining 17 postseason events.
This is an input-based weekly updated series, so your opinion counts and is noted. We track article response input, what would be the situation if the season ended today, and personal viewpoint.
Let's get started with the third installment and see what changes are in store for us from the results of this past week's action.
These 11 bowl invitations are pursued by schools who are champions of smaller conferences and want the additional media exposure. Others are trying to make the next step forward in developing a program.
In some cases, teams who did not succeed in capturing automatic bids or invitations from larger bowls will bring enormous fanbases and attention to locations they would not ordinarily be able to visit.
Bowl Date Place Payout Conf. Tie-Ins Projected Matchup
Birmingham Jan. 8 Birmingham $900,000 SEC, Big East Miss. St. vs. South Fla.
New Mexico Dec. 18 Albuquerque $750,000 MWC, WAC Wyoming vs. Utah St.
Armed Forces Dec. 30 Dallas $750,000 CUSA, MWC Houston vs. Air Force
Hawaii Dec. 24 Honolulu $750,000 CUSA, WAC Tulsa vs. Hawaii
Poinsettia Dec. 23 San Diego $750,000 MWC, Navy San Diego St. vs. Navy
Kraft Jan. 9 San Francisco $750,000 WAC, Pac-10 Fresno St. vs. Washington
GMAC Jan. 6 Mobile $750,000 MAC, Sun Belt C. Michigan vs. Troy
Humanitarian Dec. 18 Boise $750,000 WAC, MAC Nevada vs. Ohio
Little Caesars Dec. 26 Detroit $750,000 MAC, Big Ten Temple vs. Illinois
Texas Dec. 29 Houston $612,500 Big Ten, Big 12 Indiana vs. Kansas
New Orleans Dec. 18 New Orleans $325,000 Sun Belt, CUSA Middle Tenn St. vs. UAB
Here we find several schools who are chasing league championships. Michigan State, Kansas State, and Utah are capable of finding themselves playing in the upper echelon of paydays.
California, Va. Tech, and UConn will have to answer for failure to launch so far this season.
Bowl Date Place Payout Conf. Tie-Ins Projected Matchup
Dallas Jan. 1 Dallas $1,200,000 Big Ten, Big 12 Michigan St. vs. Kansas St.
Independence Dec. 27 Shreveport $1,100,000 ACC, MWC Va. Tech vs. BYU
MAACO Dec. 22 Las Vegas $1,000,000 MWC, Pac-10 Utah vs. California
St. Petersburg Dec. 21 St. Pete $1,000,000 Big East, CUSA UConn vs. Sou. Miss.
EagleBank Dec. 29 Washington $1,000,000 ACC, CUSA Maryland vs. E. Carolina
Meineke Dec. 31 Charlotte $1,000,000 ACC, Big East N.C. State vs. Rutgers
The so-called "Golden Seven" is a moniker given to these particular destinations due to their outstanding financial rewards and interesting locales.
Good money and good times make for a pleasant postseason experience.
The Pac-10 seems to fill out this list of bowls with some very strong teams. It is possible the Pac-10 wins the postseason trophy for best record.
With the new ACC-Sun Bowl contract in mind, Clemson is the natural to put a large fanbase that travels well into El Paso to face Oregon State.
Such a contest would match two coaches who are former Alabama football players in the Beavers' Mike Riley and the Tigers' Dabo Swinney.
Notre Dame is the natural fit for the new Pinstripe Bowl in New York City, while the Champs Sports Bowl contestants could easily find themselves in the Orange Bowl.
Georgia should enjoy a trip to the Liberty Bowl but may find SMU a little too hot to handle.
Bowl Game Date Place Payout Conf. Tie-Ins Projected Matchup
Alamo Dec. 29 San Antonio $2,225,000 Pac-10, Big 12 Oregon vs. Missouri
Holiday Dec. 30 San Diego $2,200,000 Pac-10, Big 12 Stanford vs. Texas Tech
Champs Dec. 28 Orlando $2,130,000 ACC, Big East Florida St. vs. Pittsburgh
Pinstripe Dec. 30 New York $2,000,000 Big East, Big 12 Notre Dame vs. Texas A&M
Sun Dec. 31 El Paso $1,900,000 ACC, Pac-10 Clemson vs. Oregon State
Liberty Dec. 31 Memphis $1,700,000 SEC, CUSA Georgia vs. SMU
Music City Dec. 30 Nashville $1,600,000 SEC, ACC Kentucky vs. Boston College
Date: January 1, 2011
Place: Jacksonville, Florida
Conference Tie-Ins: SEC No. 6 vs. Big Ten No. 4
Projected Matchup: Florida vs. Northwestern
Free at last from the bondage of the ACC, the Gator Bowl has renewed its contact with the SEC and added the Big Ten as an attractive opponent.
With the improvement in the Gamecock running game, Carolina should edge Florida for the SEC East title. What better consolation prize for the Gators than the Gator Bowl?
A clash between Florida and Northwestern looks like a tremendous defensive struggle waiting to happen.
Date: January 1, 2011
Place: Tampa, Florida
Conference Tie-Ins: SEC No. 4 vs. Big Ten No. 3
Projected Matchup: South Carolina vs. Michigan
The Wolverines will bring a crowd hungry for a return to postseason glory.
Florida will bow to South Carolina this season, and the Gamecocks will ride the legs of Marcus Lattimore and the arm of Stephen Garcia back to his hometown with a team that is not as highly ranked as LSU or Auburn.
Date: December 31, 2010
Place: Atlanta, Georgia
Payout: $3,250,000 for the ACC and $2,400,000 for the SEC
Conference Tie-Ins: ACC No. 2 vs. SEC No. 5
Projected Matchup: Georgia Tech vs. Arkansas
Expect the usual sellout crowd to experience a thriller if these two schools end up in Atlanta.
The barrel-house gang from Ga Tech must hold off Florida State and Boston College for this coveted ACC spot.
Arkansas' prominent football program was built by the hands of former Ga Tech star Frank Broyles.
Crushing ground game versus a most effective air attack.
This would be a dandy.
Date: December 28, 2010
Place: Tempe, Arizona
Conference Tie-Ins: Big Ten No. 5 vs. Big 12 No. 4
Projected Matchup: Penn State vs. Oklahoma State
Insight Bowl officials cast their fate with ESPN and increased their payout to rival the "Florida Bowls" in order to attract the most viable Big Ten candidates.
The Insight could end up with coach Joe Paterno and his Nittany Lions as a reward.
The Big 12 will counter with the highly explosive Oklahoma State.
Date: January 7, 2011
Place: Arlington, Texas
Conference Tie-Ins: SEC No. 3 vs. Big 12 No. 2
Projected Matchup: LSU vs. Texas
The Bayou Bengals have gathered focus and motivation. That makes them the most dangerous team in the nation, as proved by their previous track record.
Texas will become the Boise State of the Southwest next season. From then on, the Longhorns will have a one-game season—Oklahoma.
Win that contest and the burnt orange should be in the BCS title game on a regular basis.
If this projected match becomes reality, it could be a harbinger of the 2011 BCS title game.
These are very experienced and powerful big-time winning programs. They know how to do it, and this Cotton Bowl clash would be a fantastic attraction.
The nation will view the Cotton Bowl on the first Friday night of the new year when it will be the only college football game on television that evening.
Date: January 1, 2011
Place: Orlando, Florida
Conference Tie-Ins: SEC No. 2 vs. Big Ten No. 2
Projected Matchup: Auburn vs. Wisconsin
The Badgers play to the level of the competition, and there are serious questions among followers concerning coaching strategy. Wisconsin can always counter with powerful running back John Clay.
Auburn quarterback Cam Newton is simply too much man for those SEC boys.
With a break here or there, the Tigers could be playing in the Sugar Bowl.
Date: January 1, 2011
Place: Glendale, Arizona
Conference Tie-In: Big 12 No. 1 vs. BCS At-Large Selection
Projected Matchup: Oklahoma vs. Iowa
The BCS title game may invite the Big 12 champion, leaving the Fiesta Bowl to take a couple of at-large opponents.
Oklahoma is a sure bet for one of the spots, and not just due to the relationship between the Fiesta officials and the Big 12 conference. OU has a tremendously talented, if inconsistent so far, group of men.
Iowa was ambushed in nearby Tucson by a Wildcat squad who is far more improved than the Hawkeyes realized going into the contest.
Look for Iowa to shut down its opponents in the future and win the rest of its games with the possible exception of Ohio State.
This contest would pit Sooner coach Bob Stoops against his alma mater. The Hawkeyes have already lost to another one of their famous alums in Arizona coach Mike Stoops, the brother of the OU mentor.
Date: January 4, 2011
Place: New Orleans, Louisiana
Conference Tie-In: SEC No. 1 vs. At-Large BCS Selection
Projected Matchup: Alabama vs. TCU
The Crimson Tide is controlling the action on the field with the opponents it has faced so far.There is great confidence in the country concerning their ability to repeat as SEC champions.
TCU has an opportunity to finish undefeated, thereby earning a date in New Orleans on the basis of its high ranking.
However, the ever-dangerous Utes of Utah have their eyes fixed on the Mountain West championship and an undefeated season.
Should the Horned Frogs escape the Utah death trap and find their way into the Sugar Bowl to face Alabama, we may witness the lowest-scoring game of the postseason.
Date: January 3, 2011
Place: Miami, Florida
Conference Tie-In: ACC No. 1 vs. At-Large BCS Selection
Projected Matchup: Miami vs. West Virginia
This contest would feature two BCS conference champions.
Although Boston College and Ga Tech have an excellent shot at winning the ACC and replacing the Hurricanes in their hometown bowl, the schedule favors "The U."
If West Virginia can continue to perform well defensively, it will win the Big East Conference.
A great deal of credit should be given to the new Athletic Director of West Virginia, Oliver Luck (pictured), who has been a steadying influence since returning to his alma mater this past summer.
No doubt fans everywhere would enjoy seeing a possible match in the future between Oliver's Mountaineers and the Stanford Cardinal squad of his son Andrew.
Date: January 1, 2011
Place: Pasadena, California
Conference Tie-Ins: Pac-10 No. 1 vs. Big Ten No. 1
Projected Matchup: Arizona vs. Boise State
If there is a BCS title game participant who must vacate its automatic invitation to the Rose Bowl, then the most qualified and highest ranked team from a non-BCS conference is allowed to step in.
Based upon the final rankings, the Broncos should meet those qualifications and take the place of Ohio State in Pasadena.
Arizona has demonstrated the balance necessary for an effective offense. The defensive unit and special teams' speed is a fury to behold.
The Date: January 10, 2011
The Place: Glendale, Arizona
Conference Tie-Ins: None. No. 1 against No. 2
Projected Matchup: Ohio State vs. Nebraska
Ohio State has the weapons to go undefeated and qualify for this contest by virtue of ranking.
Nebraska is loaded and features a superstar quarterback in the making with Taylor Martinez.
Cornhusker coach Bo Pelini would be facing his alma mater if this projection comes true.
Nebraska has its challenges this year. The Cornhuskers face a dangerous Thursday night contest on the road at Kansas State along with a potential roadblock in the Big 12 title game.
The Buckeyes must face an incredibly difficult schedule, but this team is so big and fast that it is difficult to imagine them stumbling along the way.
If these two teams make it through the season unscathed, they will deserve to play for the title.
Pictured you will find Sonny Domingo and his wrecking crew.
These gentlemen were known to knock back a few Falstaffs and knock over the furniture in quite a few, eh, public houses is what they call them in the old country.
In one way or another, this trio has been supplying Bleacher Report readers with a variety of tales to astonish over the past three football seasons.
Some faces you should recognize, others you may not. Suffice to say, a number of you have had ongoing discussions on Bleacher Report with one or more of these gentlemen over the years.
Long removed from their halcyon days of mischief, the opportunity to have them submit impressions concerning who will play in the BCS bowls was too good an opportunity to pass up.
1. Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. Oregon
2. Sugar Bowl: Auburn vs. TCU
3. Orange Bowl: Clemson vs. Pittsburgh
4. Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Michigan
5. BCS Title: Alabama vs. Texas
The response and feedback from the B/R community was dazzling and impressive concerning the first two articles in this weekly series.
Among the most often repeated messages and comments concerned the fact Alabama will play in the BCS title game.
Additionally, not enough respect is given to the Oregon Ducks for defeating both Portland and New Mexico, along with the leavings of departed coach Lane Kiffin in the Smoky Mountains.
By tallying the results of the prior weeks' remarks, we find an ever-growing opinion from readers concerning who will be the actual participants in bowl games according to your analysis.
Expert Alabama writer Tim Croley provided a breakdown of numerous bowl confrontations in the comments section of this past week's article, along with a number of veteran writers who have entered the debate regarding specific bowls of interest.
Hot and heavy writing has never hurt anyone, so let's hear about the smaller bowls as well.
Bear in mind, if we do not hear from you, we cannot report the information you wish to portray, and your opinion will not get the priority it needs.
The BCS Bowl Projections of Week 3 Based Upon Reader Input
BCS Title Game: Alabama vs. Oregon
Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. Stanford
Sugar Bowl: Arkansas vs. TCU
Orange Bowl: Florida State vs. West Virginia
Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Boise State
There you have it. Now, if you do not agree with the readers, the experts, or the ol' Doc, leave us a comment and let us know who you see playing in the postseason bowl games.